The incident occurred when the plane landed at Kaduna airport “due to inclement weather,” the army says.
Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, commander of the Nigerian army, and other military officers have been killed when his plane crashed in the north of the country, according to officials.
Friday’s incident occurred “due to inclement weather,” as the plane was landing at Kaduna International Airport, the armed forces said in a statement, adding that the crash “caused the lives of 10 other agents, including the crew.”
No immediate information was provided on what could have caused the plane crash, but Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima said more details will be released soon. The names of the other military officers who died were not made public.
The Nigerian army regrets announcing the death of its army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru. The sad event came after a plane crash in Kaduna that also claimed the lives of ten other officers, including the crew.
– Army of Nigeria (@HQNigerianArmy) May 21, 2021
He was only Chief of Staff of the Attahiru Army named of President Muhammadu Buhari in January as part of a shake-up of top military command to better combat growing violence, including the more than decade-long battle against the armed group Boko Haram.
Buhari, a former general elected for the first time in 2015, has come under increasing pressure from allies and critics for his government’s handling of the country’s growing security problems.
In a statement, the president said the accident “was a fatal blow to our belly, at a time when our armed forces are about to end the security challenges facing the country.”
Deeply saddened by the plane crash that claimed the lives of the army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, and other military officers. They are all heroes who paid the final price for peace and security on earth.
– Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) May 21, 2021
The U.S. diplomatic mission in Nigeria described Attahiru’s death as “a tremendous loss for Nigeria” on Twitter, adding: “We join Nigerians in mourning the tragic loss of lives caused by the accident of today’s plane “.
The Nigerian army has been fighting Boko Haram in the northeast since 2009, in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 and displaced some two million.
Attahiru died com reports arose that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had been seriously injured or possibly killed after clashes with a rival faction.
The army chief had once been tasked with leading the front-line offensive against Shekau fighters in the northeast in 2017.
Local intelligence sources said Shekau had been seriously injured this week when the Islamic State of the West African province (ISWAP), linked to ISIL, attacked its fortress in the Sambisa forest, in the northeast of the state of Borno. Sources said Shekau was injured when he was shot to try to evade capture.
The Boko Haram leader has been assassinated several times since the conflict began, only to reappear later.
The Nigerian army has said it was still investigating the reports and neither ISWAP nor Boko Haram had issued any statement on the Sambisa attack or the Shekau whereabouts.